Saturday, October 24, 2009

Have they cracked it this time?

After a long-long wait, counting down from the launch of Vista onwards, the Windows crowd could 'breath' again this week. Starting October 22nd they got the chance to throw a few dear beans over the counter and buy the long expected painkiller, also known as Windows 7. Nowadays, it is right after new OS launches by Microsoft that I find myself testing Windows too... each time the Redmond kids launch a new OS version, for kicks and healthy curiosity I get my arms around a Windows box and try to taste the goodies, if any...

I've got a native Wintel box (from HP, I think, single processor, from before the Duo's appeared) and half a dozen Intel Macs (MacBooks, iMacs, mini Macs, the works). Ever since Parallels has brought virtual spaces to the Macworld, I always try to test Windows on both hardware architectures, a Mac box (any one would do) and a native Wintel box (clone or brand). So far my experience has shown that Windows installs perform much snappier on a Mac box (under Parallels) than on any of my other 'horsepower' comparable Wintel boxes.

How about Windows 7 then? Well, if you happen to have no clue what the 'Mac experience' is like, and all you used in your life were Windows or Linux OSes, then prepare for a pleasant surprise. Win 7 installs lightning fast (on my MacBook Pro it did that in less than 15 min, even beating any Mac OSX install I can recall) and it's quite snappy in its use. Definitely better than any of my previous Windows experiences on Mac hardware. Must say though, Parallels just sent a brand new upgrade of their latest version to the world, only 24 hours ago. I have no clue what this was, but I suspect it's got something to do with Win 7. Anyways, it seems to work. I could even imagine a life of doing some useful tasks on Win 7. I mean, it's not bad at all. Except for some ridiculous wallpapers that keep changing by default, that is... All those nasty pop-ups that Vista used to throw to users asking to confirm actions seem to have been reduced to a minimum. Win 7's look and feel is still very much Vista-like but quite snappier. On my HP box though, don't know why, Win7 took ages to install and kept spinning the drive, sounding like a calcium clogged coffee machine!

Nevertheless, Windows will still be Windows. Try to change a keyboard language in Win 7, for instance. And count the panels, tabs and box ticks you need to go thru to get there. Then, do the same on a Mac, to see how simply such things could actually be done... I rest my case.

As I was checking one of the configuration panels, my eyeball stuck on a menu command saying "Restore and install hidden updates". It was a trivial and common panel where I saw that command. Not the kind of obscure techie pop-ups with gibberish commands that only pro's know how to get to and what to do with. I'm like, WTF is this again?!?. I mean, ok, fine, I understand what it sez, but, golly... Why should any double digit IQ moron who'd only use a computer to do a few mails a day, some 3D gaming, maybe some Facebook shit, and also search celeb gossip on tabloids like MSN, would have to be served with menu commands like this? Dear Borg, when are you going to get this in your Homer Simpson sized brain? End users are no techie geeks like your Microsofties! Capice? Who needs shit like that in front of his gob. Gosh! Will they ever learn?!

Interesting things happened to me with IE8 too. Of course IE8 installs by default with Win7, and every time I launched it, it kept asking me whether I wanted it to become my default browser (hell, NO!). Mind you, there was no other browser installed at the time... Anyways, I tried next to test it on a rather sophisticated, in terms of implemented functionality and browser interactivity, homepage. I was honestly shocked to find out that it actually... played ball! Wow! I'm impressed!

Next thing, I tried to post something new on this blog, using, what else, Blogger. But IE8 was no go. Not good! Sucked! Nothing happened! Like Emanuel cried in Faulty Towers: No-Thing! The Blogger editor came out with no tool icons... unbelievable!

I then tried to download and install Google Chrome instead. I knew Chrome could tackle Blogger just fine. I also like Chrome for its simplicity and speed. Fastest browser on the planet. It may also turn out to be the best browser available one day. The way I normally do these things is search Google to look for the download server of the software I am interested in. As IE8 natively forced me into Bing, I wanted to change its default search engine to Google. In earlier versions, the Google engine was one of the proposed options. Not anymore though. I actually had to enter the whole URL address explicitly in the IE8 input field to get to google search. Anyways, once arrived at the Chrome homepage I started the install procedure but within less than 20 secs the process crashed. Tried again, crashed again! Just couldn't do it. Peculiar, as there were no known problems before, at least not in the Win 7 RC version I tested few months ago. Long story short, I then downloaded Firefox to make Blogger work... this time Firefox installed with no glitches. Is Microsoft 'facilitating' the Google experience when you're trying to install Chrome? Or did this just happen to me? Let me know if you haven't experienced the same...

Eventually, I ended up creating this post under Win7 and Firefox. Seems to have worked so far (no crashes or glitches).

Morale of the story. Win 7 will probably turn out a cool Windows... to the Win faithful, at least. Under the assumption of course, if you want the best experience, have it run on Mac hardware. Mark my words!

UPDATE: Jeez, I just found out how to change the default search engine to Google... IE8 offers plenty of search engine choices... two pages in fact. A dozen of them per page. I only found out this morning. Google appears nowhere in the first page. It is the first option in the second page though... kinda sleek! LMFAO!

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